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October 31st, 2007

Nanotechnology and the Changing Face of the Electric Utility Industry

Nanotechnology: A Cautionary Tale for the Electric Utility Industry

In 1968, Swiss watch manufacturers controlled 80 percent of the world market in high quality watches. By 1973, their market share had plummeted to less than 25 percent and they were forced to lay off 50,000 watchmakers. The reason for the sudden reversal of fortune was quartz technology--a new, disruptive technology which ushered in an era of cheap, reliable electronic watches.

The story serves as a poignant reminder of the power of technological change. It is very relevant to the electric utility industry because nanotechnology--a new emerging set of technologies--has the potential to revolutionize the electric utility industry in much the same fashion as quartz technology changed the "timepiece" industry.


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